Grief is a natural reaction to loss. Miracle City Hospice is here to help as you find your way through life after loss. Although there are common feelings and reactions of those who go through similar losses, each of us journey through grief in a unique and individual way. Below you will find information and materials to learn more about grief and help you and your family cope with the loss of a loved one.
For families served by Miracle City Hospice, grief support begins as early as admission to hospice care and offers ongoing grief and bereavement services for thirteen months after the death of a loved one. Bereavement Services include:
-Follow-up for the 13 months after the loss of a loved one
-A quarterly newsletter with pertinent information, articles and words of comfort for this time
–Mailings every few months and occasional phone calls to check and see how loved ones are coping
-A Bereavement Memorial is offered twice a year to give another opportunity to honor and remember those that have passed away
Perhaps you are looking for information about a specific aspect of grief, a support group, or an individual counselor for therapy. Miracle City Hospice Bereavement Services would be glad to talk to you about additional sources of support. There is also information and other organizations below that you may find useful:
Coping with Grief
One of the most important things to remember when you begin your grief journey is that people are different and, therefore, grieve in different ways. There is no wrong way to go through the experience. The relationship you had with the person and the uniqueness of your personality will influence your response to the loss and your grief.
That being said, there are enough commonalities in the way people grieve that we can give you some “tips” that may help during your grieving season.
- Identify one or more people to contact when you need to talk. We usually have certain friends or family members who are particularly empathic and are willing to lend a listening ear.
- Need quiet or time to be alone? That’s ok. You don’t want to isolate yourself too much but being alone may have restorative powers when you are grieving.
- Now is a good time to draw on your faith. You may want to read in your faith book for inspiration, attend services where you worship or share with members of your faith.
- Think about a support group. It helps to share with others who have experienced a loss and understand what you are going through.
- Consider meeting with a mental health professional. This does not need to be a long-term commitment but objective advice from a professional can be a very helpful addition to your support system when you are grieving.
- Spend time in nature. Even a walk in the park can be restorative. This has both physical and emotional benefits.
- Exercise when possible. Even a small amount can ease your mood and set the tone for the rest of the day.
- Journal writing is an outlet that many people find helpful. No need to worry about the right or wrong way to do it – the purpose is to find an outlet for your emotions.
- Change it up. Do things a little differently, maybe just one thing. You will be amazed at how this can impact your mood.
Most importantly of all, don’t expect too much from yourself too soon. Celebrate little steps and don’t be discouraged if the road seems rocky at times. Such is the nature of the journey.
Helping Kids and Teens
It can be very difficult to know what to say to a grieving child that is asking so many questions. Do you explain what happened or do you lie to the child to protect them from the heartbreak? As an adult, you are now a role model to help teach a child how to grieve, mourn, and accept death. Dr. Alan Wolfelt states that a funeral is the first opportunity to express your grief. Funerals are a way for the child to acknowledge the loss and remember all the memories shared with the loved one and to say good-bye. If the child has not been to a funeral, it is important to answer all the questions the child may have. From explaining what the room will look like, to where the deceased will be, to what they can and can not do at the funeral, and what will happen during and after the funeral. After the funeral is a vital time to help teach children that it is okay to miss someone and it is okay to talk about them. Take time each day to talk about the person who died and share happy memories of them.
Every child will grieve differently in their own way. Dr. Alan Wolfelt states “Do not tell a child how they should feel during or after a loss or funeral. Kids tend to take grief in doses and may need to take breaks away from grieving”. Instead, make sure that you explain in simple and direct terms to the child that it is okay to be sad and it is okay to be angry. Let the child make their own choices on how they feel and make their own decisions if they want to go up to the casket, speak, or have a keepsake from their loved one (given the appropriate age).
Remembering Loved Ones
Bereavement Memorial Service: Twice a year (in the Spring and Fall) we gather to give friends and families who have lost a loved one another opportunity to celebrate and remember those that died. This is an evening event spent with staff members, family, and friends to reflect on the life of those we lost. During this time, there is music, readings, reflections, and time to share a memory of your loved one. Each of the services will have a theme that will allow you to individually recognize your loved one.
Special Ceremonies: Our Staff can assist with planning or performing a ceremony of remembrance as well as celebrations for our families.
The Miracle City Hospice team regularly honors veterans under our care.
Other Ways to Honor Deceased Loved One:
- Memorial shadow box
- Donate to a charity in their name
- Come together with family and friends for their birthday
- Tell stories frequently of a loved one
- Make a quilt of their clothes
- Make a scrapbook
- Frame something they have written
- Have a butterfly or balloon release
- Have memorial jewelry made
Special Occasions and Holidays
When you are grieving, special occasions and holidays are often days when we are acutely aware that our loved one is no longer with us. You may even feel full of anticipation and dread in the days prior to the important date. To help yourself through these days, acknowledge that they are coming and realize that they may “trigger” your grief. Prepare what you will be doing ahead of time. Don’t try to treat the date as “just another day”. Have something planned. It could be as elaborate as planning a trip around that day or as simple as lighting a candle beside their picture. Whatever you do, recognize that this year the date will have a different meaning and treat it accordingly.
Grief and Loss in the Time of COVID
Grief is the natural way we cope with loss. Grief encompasses all our thoughts and feelings when something or someone important to us is no longer in our life. Grief can leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and raw. The COVID pandemic has further complicated or exacerbated our feelings of grief. Many grievers are finding it difficult to access their normal coping strategies during this health crisis.
RITUALS: Often bereaved individuals take comfort in community rituals, such as funerals, wakes, or sitting Shiva. These communal rituals have been greatly altered during this period of isolation. Some of these rituals have been postponed, rushed, or shortened. Because these important rituals have been delayed or altered, the process of grieving may be disrupted.
Seek alternative ways to honor and memorialize loved ones. Consider live-streaming a small service, facilitate a family Zoom meeting so friends and family can share stories about the deceased, or create a memory box for the deceased.
SOCIAL SUPPORT: Many bereaved individuals take comfort in visiting with close friends. However, during this pandemic, visiting with friends and family has been discouraged or even prohibited. This can stand in the way of the helpful reminiscing, story-telling, and active listening that so many grieving individuals need in order to make sense of the loss they have experienced.
Stay connected to friends and family with phone calls or online meetings. Consider joining an online Grief Support group. Reach out to someone that has also experienced a loss. Consider keeping a journal to record stories and memories of the departed.
EMOTIONAL IMPACT: Having feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety are a normal part of the grieving process. However, these feelings can be intensified due to the uncertainty and fear caused by the COVID pandemic.
Feelings of guilt are experienced by many bereaved individuals. Due to the disruptions from COVID, these feelings of guilt may be more prevalent. Some people may be experiencing guilt because they were unable to be with their loved ones at the time of death or leading up to the individual’s death. If a loved one died due to complications from COVID, then the bereaved may feel guilt because they were unable to protect their loved ones from contracting COVID.
Revisit past coping strategies that provide comfort, ease stress, and lessen anxiety. If some of these coping strategies are unavailable due to pandemic restrictions, get creative, and consider similar alternatives. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Grief is tough under the best of circumstances. Right now, many situations are beyond our control. Seek professional assistance if you are overwhelmed and nothing seems to help.